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Juan Agudelo delivers “complete performance” in Inter Miami win


Juan Agudelo has been a jack of all trades for Inter Miami as of late, but in Saturday’s historic victory he was an ace.

Inter Miami picked up its first-ever road win on Saturday night by defeating Atlanta United, 2-1, and Agudelo was an integral part of that. Not only did the veteran attacker score the fastest goal in the expansion side’s short history with the type of clinical finishing that has alluded Inter Miami for much of this year, but he also combined well with his teammates and hustled hard on defense to help see out the result.

“I think he had a complete performance,” said head coach Diego Alonso in Spanish. “More than the goal, he helped us a lot from the run of play. He is a player that gets involved a lot in combination play, and that helps us a lot in the style of play.”

Of course, Agudelo’s most notable contribution on the night will be his record-setting goal. Inter Miami got on the board at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after just one minute and 43 seconds via a strong low finish, which he helped set up with an impressive through ball on the half-turn to Lewis Morgan.

The authoritative strike — that was faster than Rodolfo Pizarro’s Week 2 opener vs. D.C. United by five seconds — was Agudelo’s only goal on the night. That said, his efforts vs. Atlanta United went beyond the box score, especially in the second half when the game called for him to chase and press Atlanta United players for long stretches.

“I thought I worked my butt off defensively today,” said Agudelo. “I didn’t even have energy to attack sometimes.”

For the 27-year-old Agudelo, this strong overall showing came in the striker spot. Agudelo had been used in a number of different positions in recent games, including as a right and left midfielder, but that constant change did not prevent him from making an impact as the starting forward on Saturday.

Both with and without the ball.

“Luckily, I’ve had the experience of playing in multiple positions in some big games, so I feel comfortable wherever the manager decides,” said Agudelo, who now has two goals on the season. “I’m always going to be that guy that’s going to give it my all no matter what position I play.

“Whether I play wide, I understand what to do. Whether I play central mid even, I understand what to do. Whether I play the 9, I understand what to do.”

Even with his solid display, Agudelo’s odds of getting many more starts up top are slim. Inter Miami signed prolific striker Gonzalo Higuain on Friday, and the expectation is that the Argentine will lead the front line when he is cleared to play.

What that means for Agudelo’s role in the near future is uncertain. He could return to starting out wide on the left or could be used primarily as an attacking option off the bench.

Regardless, his versatility and ability to adapt tactically to varying spots make him an intriguing option and one that Alonso is likely to keep on counting on in some capacity.

“He’s a player that gives us the ability to play different of positions and he always works for the team,” said Alonso. “We’re happy with him.”

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